Search

Switzerland

Located in western Europe, and bordered by France, Germany, Italy, and Austria, Switzerland can be said to have been established in the 13th Century, when communities existing in the central Alps agreed on a confederacy. This confederacy established peace and progression involving the crucial trading routes along the Alps. The agreement was signed in 1291 and was called the Federal Charter of 1291. Over the preceding six hundred years, the country grew in size and power, gaining and losing official independence many times, until 1815 when the Congress of Vienna resurrected the independence of Switzerland. Ever since, Switzerland’s permanent neutrality has been officially recognized. Throughout both World Wars, Switzerland was never conquered or invaded, and as of 2002, the country is an official member of the United Nations.

de_0109_switzerland - Mountain Reflection

Attractions

Switzerland is a very diverse country, both in landscape and culture. Thus a visit to the country will provide much variety in things to see and do. The following are but just a few of the country’s major attractions:

  • Rhine Falls: Located at the northern tip of the country, the Rhine Falls is Europe’s biggest waterfall. There is much to see and do in and around the Falls, such as canoeing, riverboat tours, touring two local castles, and an adventure trail with lift system to and from the Falls summit.
  • Chillon Castle: Situated along Lake Geneva, this beautiful castle is over one thousand years old! Over the centuries, it has changed hands through the occupations of the Savoy’s, the Berenese, and the Vauds. Inside, the castle boasts underground Gothic rooms, great courtyards, giant formal dining halls, and even a weapons room.
  • Swiss National Park: Located in the Alps, this 170 square kilometer national park was established in 1914, and has the highest level of protection (Level 1) for nature and wilderness by the Union for the Conservation of Nature. The park has an extensive array of plants and wildlife, as well as many hiking paths of varying difficulty levels.
  • The City of Zurich: nestled along the shores of Lake Zurich, the multicultural city of Zurich, capital of Switzerland, boasts over 100 art galleries and approximately 50 museums! Events abound year-round in the city. For example, in April the city celebrates with passion the arrival of Spring with the festival called Sechselauten, as well as a Streetparade in August that is touted as being one of the biggest techno-music events in the world.

de_0107_switzewrland -Zurich at night

Local Food & Drink

With Switzerland being a land influenced by its bordering neighbors rich in their own culture and history, it is no surprise that the country’s food and drink options mirror its geographical position. For instance, when it comes to food, Switzerland has been influenced by France via recipes such as fondue and meringue. From its German roots, recipes include Suplermagronen, a favorite, consisting of bacon, potatoes, macaroni, onions and cheese. Pizzoccheri, a Swiss-Italian dish, is a buckwheat flour-based pastry that is traditionally served with vegetables and potatoes. There also exists many native Swiss dishes. For instance, Zurcher Geschnetzeltes is a dish of veal, thinly cut, served alongside a creamy sauce with mushrooms. Also popular are traditional Swiss quiches and tarts, and of course, for breakfast, museli. For beverages, Switzerland has many popular types. Wine, for example, is a common drink, and, according to the region of the country you are in, the preferred wine will differ. For instance, Merlot is often drunk in the Italian-Swiss areas, while Pinot Noir is popular among the French-Swiss. Absinthe is also popular, with Switzerland being the birthplace of the drink. Apple juices and ciders are consumed often as well, as is the chocolate beverage known as Ovaltine.

de_0110_switzerland - geneva view

Safety

When traveling around Switzerland, although relatively a safe country to visit, there are still a few precautions to take:

  • Beware of pickpocketing. Many spots in the country attract crowds with lots of money and valuable items.
  • On your receipts, most restaurants and cafes will print out your whole credit card number, so be sure to carefully throw away your receipts, or else keep them in a safe place.
  • Police presence is strong yet often not visible (except during soccer games when full riot squads are always on hand). Also, certain laws like jaywalking are strictly enforced.
  • Good Samaritan laws are well developed in the country. In fact, you can get fined by NOT helping someone in need (“refusal of aid”).
  • When trekking into mountainous regions, be sure to check-in with the latest weather forecast, as avalanches and sudden severe weather could be imminent.